Friday, February 29, 2008

Why Grow Our Own: Heirloom Animals: Quick Points...By Eloise

watering my desert garden

By Eloise

Just to open the discussion:

1) I feel that quality of life is an essential part of being a meat-consuming person. I know, that, If I raise my own animals, I can guarantee them a quality of life that I approve of. I honestly feel that how animals are raised affects what we get out of them-- happy animals equate to happy food.

2) Being able to make sure that no hormones or other useless unnatural products are added, which may be harmful to those that ingest them. We don't even know what some of the growth steroids and vaccinations are doing to us. We also cannot guarantee that we are not being exposed to diseases in our animals, as people do not follow the guidelines as set.

3) Animals are a renewable resource. I think it is essential that we all be able to survive if the world ended tomorrow and we were forced to live off the land. Goats, for example, can be used for fiber (for spinning), milk products (milk, cheese, butter, soap), and meat. These foods are better for us now, but could be life saving in a catastrophe, whether personal or universal.

Why "Heirloom" Animals?

Here's some factors...

Heirloom animals are generally healthier, as they have not been tampered with as the modern breeds have. Heirloom breeds tend to be smaller, creating more 'oomph' (product) per mouthful of feed-- this is true with chickens, ducks, cattle, and goats.

Heirloom animals tend to have more surviving instincts than those that have been over bred. This is important for a small, one-family, operation. Intelligent animals want to survive. (Think domestic turkeys looking up at the rain and drowning...)

My personal project right now has been researching ways to incorporate heirloom animals into a very small-size operation that anyone could do. My favorite renewable heirloom type animal right now are Muscovy Ducks. They eat bugs, trash, grow to large sizes, lay huge numbers of eggs, brood well (have a better success rate with turkey eggs than incubators do), and are good eating. SO... they are a very renewable source of eggs and meat. They also are a great incubator for other eggs, in case we have no power. I have them on my A+ list.

I also have interest in little 'pygoras' (angora/pygmy goats) and heirloom miniature sheep, who eat less and also provide fiber for clothing as well as meat, and possibly milk! More on that project later!

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